«My Big Fat Greek wedding»

«My Big Fat Greek wedding» is an American comedy shot in 2002. The film is set in the Unites States and it tells a story about a young American woman of Greek descent named Toula, who lives in Chicago with her big family. Things are going quite well with her although her eccentric father insists on her finding a good husband obviously of Greek origin. One day Toula meets a young American – Yan and they fall in love together. Toula’s father does not like the idea of his daughter not being happy so he gives in and blesses their union. In this movie we find out what the young American has to learn and understand to get to know more about the Greek customs, traditions and their culture. Of course, in this movie there are a lot of sociological concepts related to the family and kinship.I would like to look into some of them. For my analysis I choose the concepts of patriarchy, of collectivistic and individualistic culture,  the concept of gender roles and the concept of cultural symbolism.

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It seems like in Toula’s family the father manages everything. He is the head of their family, and his word is law. This is an example of typical patriarchy.  Males dominate all decision making.  It is important to note that Toula’s father- Gus represents the voice of the Greek society in Chicago as he tries to impose norms upon his daughter. For example: when Yan came to Toula’s house to speak with her father and ask if he could marry her. In the beginning Gus wouldn’t agree and he defended his position very clearly but after some time Gus changed his opinion about Toula’s relationship with an American man.  And finally he accepted the fact that his daughter is going to marry the person of a different cultural background. It is once again the example of typical patriarchy because without Gus’s blessing the marriage wouldn’t have  taken  place in the future. His word and decision are law and nobody in family would  confront him. We can see it in the scene when Gus was not happy to see his American son in law. He was very angry and he did not want to speak with Yan. Toula was very upset and nervous. Maria, Toula’s mother, was upset as well. Because they realized  that if Gus  didn’t  not accept Yan the marriage was out of the question and Toula would  not be happy. Because she can’t confront her father ‘s decision .  Yan tried to have a conversation with Toula’s father but it was a bit complicated because Gus was strong enough to clearly express his opinion and ideas.

In this movie we can clearly trace the concepts of collectivistic and individualistic culture. Toula’s family represents the Greek collectivistic culture.  First of all I would like to explain what collectivistic culture means. Collectivist culture is the one in which people tend to view themselves as members of groups( families, work units, tribes, nations), and usually consider the needs of the group to be more important than the needs of individuals. Most Asian cultures, including China’s, tend to be collectivist. However, in this film we come across the example of Greek collectivistic culture where every member of a large family is up with doings of others relatives. Everybody is very interested in kinsman’s life. We can observe it in the scene where Toula’s parents are talking about their daughter’s life with Toula’s aunt.  Aunt showed an enormous interest in Toula’s life and in life of all her family. She asks questions, gives advices. And she speaks about Toula like about her own daughter. It means that all family members are very close and important to each other.

The next sociological concept is the concept of gender roles.  We can see a clear division between women’s and men’s position. The most important women’s purpose  is giving birth to children and after that their  upbringing . In other words women should look after children, be a good wife, keep the place  in good condition and cook. In their turn men should work and protect the family. In this movie according to Gus women don’t need education. And we see his discontent when Toula asks him about her going to college. Gus did not want her daughter to study. He wanted his daughter to get married and to give birth to children. In this episode we see the difference in Toula ‘s and Gus’s opinions. Toula was dreaming of getting education , a good job and independence but Gus did not like her idea. Though he had to give in some time later.

The following sociological concept is cultural symbolism. In Greek culture there are some rituals which the husband and wife to be should go through. The 1st one is that their union should be blessed by the father of the family . The next ritual is that both members of the future union should be orthodox. We witness Yan’s christening according to the Greek Orthodox Church traditions. He agreed to it because of his love for Toula and it was the only way for him to get a permission and a blessing to marry her from the family. He was baptized by an Orthodox priest in an Orthodox Church in the presence of all the members of Toula’s family. The 3rd step is a big wedding celebration with lots of traditional dishes. We see  in the  movie an enormous wedding with many guests. The traditional wedding ceremony in the church forms part of the ritual which is followed by a big party in the restaurant with great plates of food. All this is a different cultural symbol which is very important in the Greek culture.

To conclude I would like to say that In my opinion, this film, first of all, is about cultural diversity and also about different ways of living a life. As we already know, everybody has a different perception of the world and different expectations. Thanks to the movie we come to know two cultural stereotypes – the Greek one which is represented by Toula’s family and the North American’s defended so to speak by Yan and his parents. In a very amusing way this film shows us how love conquers the differences of these two worlds. Without any doubt we can say that love and love only drives all the characters of the movie to act. The willingness of Toula´s Dad to see his own daughter happy and his deep love for her makes him give up on some of the traditional principles and finally let him accept the fact that she is going to get married to an American man. At the same time Yan is driven by love as well. Through his feelings for Toula, he starts discovering the Greek culture and he submerges into it in all its aspects. He converts into Orthodox religion and spends a lot of time with Toula’s family. Of course, in this movie there are a lot of sociological concepts related to the family and kinship.I would like to look into some of them. For my analysis I choose the concepts of patriarchy, of collectivistic and individualistic culture,  the concept of gender roles and the concept of cultural symbolism.

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